Tag Archives: Emma Watson

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012) – Movie Review

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Writer / Director:  Stephen Chbosky

Stars:  Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Paul Rudd

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is unique in that the author not only adapted his book to the screenplay, but also directed the film.

The film begins with Charlie (Logan Lerman) narrating a letter to an unknown recipient.  We learn that Charlie is recovering from an emotional trauma, and he will be entering his first day of high school in the 10th Grade.  He is intelligent, scared and alone.  At lunch, Charlie sits by himself and reads a book.  Later he meets Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), his English teacher.  They have a slight connection at the end of class; a teacher who realizes Charlie needs to be nurtured and a student who realizes his teacher is going to care.  Finally he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), a senior in freshman wood shop.  He is drawn to Patrick’s charisma, character, and his pride in and acceptance of  himself.

At a Friday night football game, Charlie sidled himself next to Patrick.  During the course of the game he meets Patrick’s step-sister Sam (Emma Watson), also a senior.  Together, they waylay Charlie on their adventures.  As time passes, Charlie is further introduced into Sam & Patrick’s sphere of friends and interests.  One weekend at a party, Charlie inadvertently eats a “special” brownie.  Uninhibited, Charlie reveals to Sam the suicide of his best friend.  But this is not all that haunts Charlie’s past and affects his present.  As the year progresses, the three experience different challenges and emotions as they learn more about themselves and each other.

The story is original while being familiar.  Though the standard high school tropes are present, they are not stereotypical.  Patrick is out and proud.  Sam is a young women who has made adult choices, some of which she has come to regret.  Their group of “Misfit Toys” are not the outcast losers typically put-down by others, but friends who are proud of who they are–but by no means perfect.  As for Charlie’s story?  Frankly, it is a melancholy one, but one that leaves you knowing he will be all right.

The acting across the board is excellent.  Lerman, not exactly the most charismatic actor in his previous films, carries himself well.  His Charlie is shy, damaged, and longing to fit in.  It is a joy to watch him come out of his shell, and heartbreaking when he falls.  You connect with Charlie and want to learn more about him.  Emma Watson proves she is more than Hermione Granger.  As for Ezra Miller, he steals every scene he is in.  The three together or in pairs play off each other believably and with an emotional connection.  A lesser performance from any of the three–though especially the character of Charlie–would have derailed the whole film.

Chbosky as screenwriter could have tightened his book more.  The use of Charlie writing letters to an unknown person should have been changed to him writing in a journal.  As it is, the mystery of trying to determine who he is addressing the letters to distracts us from his personal journey.  Also, though his sister does have one key moment at the end of the film, her character is superfluous and that action easily accommodated by another person.  Chbosky, as director, acquits himself admirably.  Though there were a few distracting camera shakes, his inexperience did not harm the film.  The musical score, soundtrack, and editing all enhanced and moved the story forward, and never felt out-of-place or forced.  His greatest strength as director was not getting in the way of the actors, and allowing them to shine.

Initially, I merely enjoyed the film while I was watching it.  As I thought about the story and the performances later, I appreciated the film much more.

Grade = B+


“Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part 2” – Review

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Director:  David Yates

Writer:  Steve Kloves

Stars:  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthew Lewis

Harry Potter:  The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a good film, but underwhelmed me.  Before I continue, though, you need to know a few things.  I am typically underwhelmed by films that I am very excited for, and I was very excited for this film.  Also, there has been a non-stop onslaught of press that has added to that excitement and expectation.  Like the finale of Seinfeld, it would have been very difficult for this film to live up to the hype.  Unlike Seinfeld, I believe after time on second viewing my perception of the film will improve.  Another thing you need to know is that I am a big proponent of watching the movie first, then reading the book–you’re never let down.  If you love the film, you’ll love the book more because it adds to a world you already care about instead of taking away.  By reading the book first you also typically know how everything ends and, in the case of this film, who dies and who lives–taking away some of the emotional punch.

Now that I got my baggage out-of-the-way, what are my thoughts?  The film is a three act script, but emotionally it is divided into two parts–before Hogwarts and after.  Before the trio arrived at Hogwarts, I was very surprised how unemotionally connected I was to them and what was going on in the film.  After they arrived, that changed; more for the small moments than the main Harry/Voldermort conflict.

As an adaptation, Steve Kloves (the screenwriter) did a great job.  As a piece of literature The Deathly Hallows book, though an enjoyable read, is weak.  The writing is clunky and has too much exposition.  In the film, many of the minor characters are given their due with both small moments and large.  Long exposition scenes in the books that are necessary for the plot of the film were deftly, creatively, and quickly handled.  The ending was also much improved from the book.  Whereas Harry is a much more passive figure until the final verbose duel with Voldermort, in the film he is active and the scene much more action packed.

As for the film, David Yates (the director) did a good job.  The decision to break the final film into two parts was a good one.  You need the first to properly setup the second.  The look was great and editing OK.

And what of the characters and the actors performances?  They did a good to great job.  I thought that Ralph Fiennes was great.  The slight changes the screenwriter made to the Voldermort character were excellent choices, and they allowed Ralph to enhance the character.  Daniel Radcliffe was good, and he handled the emotional scenes well.  The same can be said for both Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.  (Side Note:  I loved how they had a role reversal where Ron was coming up with the great ideas and Hermione was saying “Brilliant”.)  But the stand out for me was Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom.  He’s not going to win the Academy Award, but of all the characters in the Harry Potter universe, Neville Longbottom is the one that has come the farthest and changed the most.  The audience–myself included–showed their appreciation for the character every time he was on-screen.

Grade:  B

P.S.  If I had written my rankings of the minor characters after I watched this film, Neville would have been first on the list.


“Harry Potter” – The Main Characters

Then

Now

Imagine it, half your life playing someone else.

That is what these three young actors have done:  Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermoine Grainger), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley).  What will happen to them?  Only time will tell.  The one good thing for their future is that–baring a total mismanagement disaster of their wealth–none of them have to work ever again.

All three are much betters actors toady then they were back then.  Of the three, Dan and Emma have shown the most range.  Rupert in the last film was allowed a few moments to shine.  Dan has done a great job carrying the franchise.  As an actor I saw him live on Broadway during his Equus run, and he was excellent.  I most likely see him having a decent career as a character actor along the same vein as Neil Patrick Harris–a good actor, but not able to carry a movie on his own.  Emma I know the least.  I believe she has not done anything outside of the Potter films, and she has dedicated herself to getting an education.  I am most curious to see what happens with her.  Though I haven’t seen his other films, Rupert has filmed a rather quirky list of movies–ranging from broad comedy to some serious fair.  I plan to Netflix them and see what he has to offer.

Of the Harry Potter films I think Dan shined the best in Order and then again in Deathly Hallows Part I.  I thought Emma was great in Goblet, and Rupert’s best work was in Deathly Part I.  As for their worst performances, I would say Chamber of Secrets.

What do you think?